Moores backs captain Cook

Peter Moores, right, is convinced Alastair Cook, left, is the right man to lead England

Peter Moores, right, is convinced Alastair Cook, left, is the right man to lead England

First published in National Sport News © by

England stood by their united assurances that Alastair Cook is still the man to lead them forward, by confirming him as captain for the third Investec Test against India.

Cook's was the most notable of two names - uncapped wicketkeeper Jos Buttler's was the other - which immediately caught the eye, for very different reasons, in a 13-man squad announced on Tuesday.

Many have contended, especially after two more failures at the top of the order as England went 1-0 down at Lord's, that Cook needs a break from his exacting responsibilities.

The 29-year-old emerged from a 95-run defeat, however, proclaiming his determination to carry on and try to put his stamp on England's 'new era' alongside returning coach Peter Moores.

After several hours of deliberation from the selectors, it emerged he will be granted that opportunity in Southampton.

England will therefore pick 11 on Sunday from a largely familiar list, notwithstanding a Lord's result which national selector James Whitaker acknowledged was "very disappointing".

Buttler is the fresh face set for a debut, after Matt Prior ruled himself out for the remainder of the summer in order to address a series of injury worries - chiefly an Achilles problem, which is likely to require surgery.

Moores, picking up the pieces after England's Ashes whitewash last winter, has no doubt Cook is the man to help him do so - despite their stuttering start together.

"I think he's showing as a captain that he's developing quickly, in a time of real adversity.

"He will make mistakes - we all do.

"The question is 'can he be the captain who can take the team forward in the long term?'

"Can he be that man? In my opinion, yes, and so I'm going to support him through that."

England have begun the summer with defeat in all three formats to Sri Lanka, and must now recover from one down with three Tests to play against India.

Moores insists, however, that Cook's appetite for the challenge has never faltered.

He said: "Alastair is not naive. He's been around international sport long enough.

"He understands it's a tough time, and there are areas he'll get better - and I think he can feel he's getting better.

"He's not a finished article ... (but) he's determined to be part of it, and I think that's the right decision for English cricket."

The Lord's setback, featuring the loss of six wickets for 50 runs to Ishant Sharma just when it seemed England might have a chance of pulling off their second-highest all-time run chase, was dispiriting.

"When you lose a game like that, you feel gutted," added Moores.

"You've put a lot into the game, and you know the players have as well."

He is confident nonetheless that Cook will respond admirably.

"He's resilient. He's strong. He's disappointed," Moores said.

"He'd set his stall out, when we were set a score to win the game, that he was going to be the man who was going to do that.

"There was a strong will in the ground, and across the country, for him to do it - but it didn't happen.

"He's played sport long enough to know it doesn't always happen how you want, but he's determined to be a part of building a team for the future - and that's what we're trying to do."

Moores knew when he took the job for the second time in his career that he faced a significant challenge.

"I didn't expect it to be easy, because there were some obvious areas of concern for us," he said.

"We'd lost some key players ... our job is to try to fix those things."

He will do so by using stick and carrot - a method already employed, by the sounds of it, with England's bowlers after they failed to bowl India out cheaply in their first innings on a green pitch at HQ.

"Crikey, we all need a kick up the backside sometimes - and we also sometimes need a pat on the back," he said.

"If you think it's a wasted opportunity because people aren't trying, you're going to kick them up the backside - because they're not putting in.

"If you think they're trying, but can't put the ball in the right area for whatever reason ... then you've got to try to help them put that right."

James Anderson and Stuart Broad remain the frontline pace pair, but with four less experienced contenders included as other options.

"The Test matches we've played this year have been pretty brutal," said Moores.

"Jimmy's always bowled a lot of overs, and managed ... that's one of his great strengths, great rhythm, and he tends to put slightly less strain on his body.

"I think Stuart has definitely had some (injury) issues.

"How that will impact over the summer, we'll have to see.

"We all know Test cricket is a challenge the longer you're in it.

"What has got to happen is the senior players have got to look at their own games and decide how they are going to come back and play to the level needed to be in a successful England team.

"As selectors, we've got to pick the guys we think can achieve that."

Buttler revealed his delight at getting the call "sooner than I expected" but reckoned it more than justified his move from his home county of Somerset up to Lancashire.

"It is a dream come true," the Taunton-born player told Lancashire's website. "I'm sure it won't sink in until I meet up with everyone and Sunday morning comes. Obviously, I'm really excited and nervous as well, but that's to be expected. I can't wait for it to be Sunday now.

"It's been a long-term goal and ambition. It's probably come sooner than I imagined as well, which is great for me. It shows that I've been going in the right direction and improving fast, which I feel I've done this year at Lancashire.

"I still feel like I've got improvements to make, but it's great that I've been named in the squad. I can't wait to get started.

"It was a really tough decision to leave Somerset, who helped me a lot, but with my long-term goal being Test cricket, I knew I had to leave. I guess it's justified it, and it's justified it pretty quickly.

"I didn't expect to be playing Test cricket this quickly, but in sport opportunities come in different ways and at different times, and I'm delighted."

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